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David Mollett

Leading jockey Warren Kennedy was good at maths at school so – discussing his chances of bettering Anthony Delpech’s record of 334 winners in a season – he had no trouble doing the sums.

We sat in the weighing room at Turffontein last Saturday working out if the likeable rider has a shot at the record.

“To be honest, I don’t think it’s possible. There are three months left so that’s 40 a month. It means I need to ride 10 winners per week – that’s a tough ask. Now my target is to get to 300 winners – that would be a good total.”

Earlier in the season, Warren says that – with the assistance of trainers Paul Peter and Gavin Smith – he felt he had a chance of beating Delpech’s record set in the 1998/99 season.

“Then I was off for three weeks with a suspension – that really scuppered it. Yes, luckily the winners have flowed but even 25 a month for 12 months leaves me 30 short of Anthony’s record.”

Nevertheless, Warren can look back on an outstanding first nine months of the 2021/22 season and you sense he’s just happy to have his name on the jockeys champion trophy alongside arguably the country’s greatest rider, Michael Roberts. Muis won the championship 11 times.

Warren has become a favourite with punters – no surprise given his steady stream of winners – but they may have only three months left to see this talented rider competing in South Africa.

“I’ve applied to the Hong Kong Jockey Club to ride there next season and I’m expecting a decision in May or early June. I’m hoping they’ll take into account being a dual jockey champion and not my age.”

He celebrated his 42nd birthday last month. I pointed out that there are old fogies – who are much older – still working!”

What is certain is that Warren Brian Kennedy will be taking a month off in August. “I will really need a break – all the travelling leaves you pretty bushed.”

From this writer’s perspective, one has to salute Warren’s achievements. Not so long ago, he was a “journeyman” jockey. Yes, he rode his winners but the media rarely came knocking at his door.

Some 24 hours before talking to Warren, I caught up with Anthony Delpech at the National Yearling Sales and asked whether he thought Warren had a chance of beating his record set 23 years ago.

“I wish him well but – honestly – I hope he doesn’t beat my record. It is something to have created racing history and I did that with the 334 winners,” said Anthony, affectionately called “Bonji” but his friends.

Anthony physically shudders when he reflects on the 1998/99 season when he set the record. “By the end (of the season), I was a mess – I needed a month off to get my body back to normal.”

He says at one stage of the campaign he had to be admitted to hospital where doctors put him on a drip.

“It takes it out of you going to meeting after meeting – in one week I rode 16 winners, that was something.”

To his credit, Seychelles-born Anthony kept up his gruelling schedule for the full 12 months of the season to write another chapter in an illustrious career.

His total number of winners in South Africa exceeded 2900 and he had more than 100 successes in Hong Kong, notably on David Ferraris’ champion, Vengeance Of Rain.

Then – for good measure – don’t let us forget four victories in the Durban July. The quartet being Classic Flag (1998), Greys Inn (2004), Bold Silvano (2010) and Igugu (2011).

“Bonji” knows exactly what Warren Kennedy has had to endure to get him to the pinnacle of his profession this term. Racing fans can simply take their hats off for their dedication to the sport.

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Kommetdieding’s no show in Saturday’s Premier’s Champions Challenge has put the cat amongst the pigeons as far as the Durban July market is concerned.

There are two differing viewpoints on Saturday’s no show by Kommetdieding – sponsors Hollywoodbets still have the four year-old as the favourite at 8.33-1 for the July 2 race, but Highveld bookmaker, Lance Michael, has pushed the colt out to 14-1.

Hollywood have Sparkling Water – second in the Premiers – as the co-second favourite at 10-1 (from 14-1) with Linebacker at the same price.

Astrix has shortened from 50-1 to 25-1.

This column is in agreement with Lance Michael’s view that a second July triumph for Kommetdieding is unlikely in his attempt to follow in Do It Again’s hoofprints with back-to-back wins. His current merit-rating is 129 so the son of Elusive Fort will have to give weight to his opponents.

Interestingly, Michael has Safe Passage and Linebacker as co-second favourites in his betting with Sparkling Water at 12-1 from 16-1 which was available prior to Saturday’s race.

No question that Vaughan Marshall will have Linebacker primed on the big day and 16-10 (and better in some quarters) a place looks very tempting.

Justin Snaith’s chances of retaining his trainers title took a serious step backwards with Paul Peter’s day-to-remember at Turffontein.

The current champion will need some big winners during the KZN season with Pomp And Power (12-1) and Double Superlative (14-1) possibly his best chance of a sixth July success.

Picture: The Paul Peter-trained and MK Nkale and Hyperpaint Syndicate-owned Maharanee (Flower Alley) wins the Grade 2 SA Fillies Nursery to give Warren Kennedy his 216th winner of the season (JC Photos).